If I only had brought a notepad to watch this movie. Then I would have dialogue that was just as sharp, snappy and brilliant as they lay out in the remake of True Grit.
The Coen Brothers do their storytelling magic once again. In each of their films, they deliver a character that you just can’t seem to get out of your head. Jeff Bridges is that character again, but he’s not The Dude. He’s a grumpy, old curmudgeon of a US Marshall.
After the death of her father at the hands of Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin,) strong-headed youngster Mattie Ross (Hailee Stienfeld) goes out in search of justice. While it seems like she is prepared to kill the man who killed her father, Mattie first enlists the help of Marshall Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn (Bridges) to help her hunt him down. LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) is a dim witted Texas Ranger who’s also on the trail of Chaney for previous crimes he’s committed.
The brilliance of the film lies with its brilliant characters. They have depth, are interesting to watch and you cheer for their success. That said, you can almost smell the BO, whiskey breath and cigarette smoke that comes off of Bridges portrayal of Rooster Cogburn.
Mattie is a girl you are better off having on your side. Her standout performance doesn’t wear you down, although I could easily see this type of character in another film, wearing you thin. The pair’s dark comical tones are a treat.
This is definitely the most palatable Coen Brothers film to date. It’s made to feel just a western, but there are few trademark cringe-worthy moments. Despite the fact they spend much time in the woods, there are no wood chippers. There are cattle, but no air-powered cattle guns. There are grumpy men, but not to the level of an angry outburst of Walter Sobchak.
A note. True Grit (2010) is not meant to be straight up remake of the John Wayne western. It’s based more off the book of the same name and even Damon was told not to watch the original as a starting point. That’s a good move because it doesn’t try to recreate the essence of Wayne. Nobody should try that. The Dude doesn’t try to out-Duke the Duke and that’s why this works so well.
Another note: although Johnny Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down" is used brilliantly in the trailer, it does not appear in the movie.